Accession Number:



On a Wing and a Prayer: A Holistic Vision for Airpower in Small Wars

Descriptive Note:

Technical Report,05 Jun 2016,25 May 2017

Corporate Author:

US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

Personal Author(s):

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The task of a nations armed forces is to fight and win its wars. For the United States, throughout most of the 20th century through today, these wars have been small wars. The US Air Force USAF is a key member of the US Armed Forces, but its airpower is often utilized as a mere adjunct capability within small wars instead of being employed in a cohesive operational construct. This monograph first suggests a method to understand the unique nature of small wars -- the Military Power Utilization Model. Next, a brief explanation of the contemporary security environment and a basic overview of the USAFairpower functions are provided. Then, two historical examples highlight the tangible differences required for airpower in small wars. Subsequently, this monograph argues that a holistic paradigm shift is required within the USAF to make its airpower effective in small wars. Specific recommendations related to USAF airpower employment, organization, training, and equipping are made to achieve the vision of the Air Force Future Operating Concept and fulfill the USAF Chief of Staffs top two focus areas of revitalizing squadrons and strengthening joint leaders and teams. These proposals include doctrinal changes to the definition of close air support, creation of the USAF Air-Ground Expeditionary Center, transformation of the Terminal Air Control Party to a comprehensive Air Integration Team, procurement of a light attackarmed reconnaissance platform, and multiple other improvements to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of airpower in small wars.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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